Californians and the Military
Tyrone Power
Actor, Marine Corps Aviator
by M.L. Shettle, Jr.

Tyrone Power was born into an acting family in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1914. He broke into motion pictures in 1932 and by 1938 was established as a romantic swashbuckling star and a national heart throb. After achieving stardom, Power began taking flying lessons, earned a private pilot's license, and purchased an aircraft. Patriotic fever was sweeping through Hollywood in 1942 and many actors entered the services. Power could have received a direct commission and a cushy job, but his goal at the time was to become a Marine glider pilot. Because of his age and lack of education, he did not qualify to enter flight training as a cadet. The only recourse open was to enter flight training as an officer; therefore, he enlisted as a private in the Marine Corps in August 1942. He delayed entering active duty sever al months to complete the war movie Crash Dive. Power went through boot camp at San Diego and OCS at Quantico before being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on June 2, 1943.

As an experienced pilot with 180 solo hours, Power went through an accelerated flight training program at Corpus Christi. Since he was considered too old for combat flying, Power trained in the multiengine land pipeline as a prospective transport pilot. He won his wings and was promoted to First Lieutenant. in April 1944. After receiving his wings, Power attended the Flight Instructor Instrument School at NAS Atlanta - standard procedure for all new transport pilots. Arriving at Cherry Point, NC in July, Power was assigned to VMR-352 as an R5C copilot. Power and VMR-352 were based at El Centro from October 1944 to January 1945.
Power was reassigned to the R5C equipped VMR-353, joined that squadron on Kwajalein in February, and moved with that unit to Saipan in March. Power took part in the air supply and evacuation of wounded from Iwo Jima and Okinawa. One of VMR-353's aircraft was destroyed by a Japanese suicide squad on Okinawa.

Orders sent Power back to the United States in November 1945 and the Marines released him from active duty in January 1946. Power held the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. Power returned to his acting career and made 22 motion pictures after the war. He was promoted to Captain in the Reserves on May 8, 1951, but was not recalled for the Korean War.
While filming Solomon and Sheba in Madrid, Spain on November 11, 1958, Power collapsed during a sword-fighting scene with fellow actor George Sanders and died on the way to the hospital of a heart attack at the age of 44.
Copied with the permission of the author from United States Marine Corps Air Stations of World War II.


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Updated 8 February 2016